A one year old cat is thought to have the equivalent maturity of a 25 year old person. Imagine what it would be like had you never been to a dentist before your 25th birthday. You might not have been allowed to go to school if you had never been seen by a doctor. Though we don’t know for sure how to equate age between cats and people, the cat’s rapid maturity makes him a senior at about 12 or so, about to hit a retirement in humans of about 64.
My own 20 year old is about 96 in human years and it shows! Think about your grandparents’ medical conditions and medications at that age if you were lucky enough to have them with you that long. Woody is near deaf, so when he meows it IS near deafening so he can hear himself. He loves to drink out of dripping faucets but has to have the water drip on his nose so he can locate it. Yet he still jumps in his favorite person’s lap, which isn’t me of course. He goes for walks with us. He has a set of demands that are specific and we know by where he is and how he sounds just what he wants. Naturally, he is on a lot of medication for the many conditions that come with being very old; for pain, for his thyroid, his kidneys, occasional nausea, that sort of thing. Easy enough and it keeps him well.
In his heyday, he wasn’t so tractable as he is now. Even my most skilled nurses at the Cat Hospital of Portland had trouble doing anything with him. Woody would object to everything they tried to get done with an earnestness that involved his whole being. From nose to tail, he acted out his fear of their ministrations with a robust conviction that he was right to fight them. In the end, they prevailed and he was regularly examined, had whatever diagnostics or therapy done that were indicated, vaccinated and protected from fleas and a host of other parasites that inflict cats in my neck of the woods.
This week is “Take Your Cat to the Vet” Day on August 22. Please do it. Think of it as celebrating “Take Your Cat to Work”, a worthy reminder that even the most predictable events, going to work, is worth celebrating. Woody had all the care he needed to make it to 96. Your cat deserves the same. Loving and cherishing the time we have with them means making good health care decisions on their behalf. They might not choose to go, if given the chance but they would surely love to stick around a long, long time with you.